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Discussion on: Tell us what your top unpopular tech opinion is 😈

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Ashwin Hariharan • Edited

My unpopular opinion: When it comes down to having a great career in tech - we need to play our cards well, and to find that one thing with which we can have an unfair advantage. Using your time and energy to get that unfair advantage in JavaScript / web programming is a hugely misplaced effort.

The web programming world - and especially JavaScript - is a rabbit hole. Like Alice, you'll find it mesmerizing when you go down that path - everything looks surreal and magical. You continue learning, find JavaScript's idiosyncrasies even alluring at times. And yet, you'd think there is some end to this - some place where you feel "I have seen enough".

That's where you're wrong. There are more nooks to explore, more stuff coming up every time you go further. You think, maybe if I just learn these 4 new things, I should be good. But ohhh no, it never is! Spend a couple of years doing side projects and paid courses, and you think you'd reach a stage where you can finally say - "Finally! I know React and Redux completely. I'm totally hireable as a senior front-end developer now."

But nope, it turns out that now your dream company just wrote a blog post on why they think Vue is better than React. And another dream company of yours has decided to chuck Redux altogether and go for Apollo GraphQL. And now you have React hooks that everyone's raving about. Well that's just perfect isn't it. Yet another JS titbit to pick up and master, because I have nothing better to do with my life. Who knows, maybe this time it will actually be enough and I can clear an interview.

And when you finally open your eyes and zoom away from this mad world, you realize that the rest of the universe has moved on to other cool stuff like machine learning, data science, and product design. And you're kinda late to the party. Because you've been falsely lead to believe that the JavaScript party is the biggest in the technoverse.

If you haven't realized it yet, you will one day. And someday when your coworker excitedly pings on the office slack group - "Guys, have you checked out killmealready.js? It is super cool! I'm gonna try it out this weekend "

You're gonna be like, "Cheers mate, lemme know how it goes!"

Anybody else feel me? Surely I can't be the only one?

Moral of the story

JavaScript is easy to get started with, but extremely difficult to get out of, and to get a mastery over it takes ages. It's quite chaotic and volatile, more than anything else in tech.

You're better off getting your unfair advantage by learning these instead:

  • Devops (Docker, Kubernetes, etc)
  • Data Science
  • Machine learning / Deep Learning
  • Interaction Design and product design
  • User Interface Design
  • Product management
  • And honestly, any other language.

Why? Because it's all about the shelf-life (or half-life) value. Every single one of the topics above have arguably a much longer half-life than any JS framework or titbit in existence today. It's more satisfying to learn how to write linear regression or learning about design principles, than learning how "hoisting" in JavaScript works. I mean why would anyone ever do this?!

var a = 20;

What sort of monster would ever do this?! Have you ever encountered such a monster in the wild? I haven't! And even if you do, a simple magic incantation of use strict can undo whatever this monster did. So why the heck am I supposed to know whether some stupid variable floats up to the beginning of the scope, or down, or round and round like a merry-go-round? Why not move on with our lives already and learn something that's actually useful? Ugh!